Advertisement
 

UCLA's Myles Jack is a wanted man on both sides of the ball

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

The linebacker has some highlight moments in victory over Arizona, as offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone uses six defensive players on offense, five in support of Jack.

November 10, 2013|By Chris Foster

Noel Mazzone, UCLA offensive coordinator and poacher, laughed at the question.

Linebacker Myles Jack had show-stealing moments in a limited role during the Bruins' 31-26 victory over Arizona on Saturday, rolling up 120 yards in six carries.

Mazzone was asked whether Jack might be more valuable on offense. Mazzone launched into are-you-kidding-me shtick.

Said Mazzone: "You're asking an offensive coordinator who just had a guy carry six times for 120 yards? You're asking me if I want him in there more? Well, yeah. Imagine if he carried 26 times?"

That makes UCLA defensive coordinator Lou Spanos anything but nervous.

"We want the best players on the field on both sides of the ball," Spanos said.

Coach Jim Mora refers to Mazzone as the Bruins' "mad scientist." Jack has been his most successful experiment so far.

The Bruins used six defensive players on offense against Arizona, five in support of Jack, whose 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Bruins a 31-19 cushion.

Spanos received nothing in trade, nor was he looking for any.

"All we want are wins through a team effort," Spanos said.

Spanos contributed a few pieces beyond Jack to achieve that goal.

Mazzone borrowed defensive linemen Cassius Marsh, Eddie Vanderdoes, Kenny Clark, Keenan Graham and Jordan Zumwalt, who were used in an inverted wishbone formation with Jack as a deep back.

"When he asks us defensive guys to play offense, we all go, 'Sweet!' " said Zumwalt, who had a 12-yard pass reception in the game.

Mazzone constantly eyeballs defensive players to supplement the offense. His spread formation doesn't require fullbacks or tight ends. Injuries along the offensive line have left the Bruins short on girth up front.

So Mazzone improvises to take some pressure off quarterback Brett Hundley.

"Those 'third downs and ones' and 'third downs and twos' have been putting a lot on Brett's shoulders," Mazzone said.

This is hardly a new tactic for Mazzone. He used Marsh, Graham and former UCLA defensive end Datone Jones as tight ends in goal-line situations last season. Marsh and Jones caught touchdown passes.

This season he went shopping on the defense again.

"I look around and watch those guys in practice," Mazzone said. "Eddie and Kenny, those guys are athletes. I kind of said, 'Those two guys.' "

Vanderdoes and Clark formed "young pack" and Marsh and Graham "old pack." Brandon Willis, who is making the transition from defensive end to guard, was used as a tight end. Graham and Willis had the key blocks that sprung Jack on his touchdown run.

"It's a part of the game that we don't usually get to experience," Marsh said. "I think it's fun. What happened today with Myles was fun."

Sure, for the Bruins. Not so much for Arizona.

Said Mazzone: "Those kids are going to make us look like we actually know what the hell we're doing … finally."

Injury report

Running back Damien Thigpen left the game with a leg injury. Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who has been playing with a sore shoulder, also was dinged up in the game.

Thigpen was in a walking boot, but Mora said, "there was little swelling and he was walking around pretty good."

Kendricks "will be fine," Mora said.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter.com: @cfosterlatimes

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|